UCLA football links: Talent vs. wins

UCLA Bruins’ quarterback Josh Rosen fires a pass during the second half against Stanford Cardinal at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena on Saturday, September 24, 2016. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The recruits are signed and the next step is development.

Athlon Sports examined the relationship between recruiting class rankings and winning in the Pac-12 over the past five seasons, finding that, predictably, higher-ranked recruiting classes generally perform better on the field.

However, one of the underachievers was UCLA, which, based on 247Sports’ team composite rankings, had the second-best recruiting classes during the past five recruiting cycles (from 2013-17). But UCLA’s overall record in the past five seasons (2012-16) is 41-24 (0.631) and ranks fifth in the conference.

Below is a chart plotting the recruiting rankings in the Pac-12 against each team’s overall record. The rankings, in accordance the Athlon Sports article, are based on the school’s 247Sports team composite ranking average from the past five recruiting cycles. The purple diagonal line indicates the trend. The teams under the line are general underachievers when it comes to turning talent into wins.  Continue reading

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How I voted in the college basketball AP poll: UCLA rises again

UCLA climbed four spots to No. 6 in Monday’s Associated Press men’s basketbal poll

UCLA hasn’t convinced the computers, but the humans are buying in again. The Bruins’ mammoth win over Oregon on Thursday – and losses by four teams ranked ahead of them – earned them four spots in Monday’s AP poll.

It’s undeniable that UCLA’s schedule is weak, limiting its potential to earn resume-building wins – its RPI actually dropped from 20 to 25 after beating lowly Oregon State on Sunday. But humans recognize that if UCLA is capable of beating a team of Oregon’s caliber, it doesn’t need to be heavily penalized for the upredictable element of a schedule that didn’t pan out.

The Bruins have high quality wins over Oregon and Kentucky more than two months apart. They have remained steadily on the cusp of being great all season, but there have been limited opportunities to prove it.

Its win over Oregon, however, earned it no favor from the NCAA tournament selection committee. Coach Steve Alford was none too pleased that UCLA was slotted as a No. 4 seed in Saturday’s preliminary bracket. If the tournament started tomorrow, I’d give UCLA a No. 2 seed and feel good about it.

How I voted in the Week 15 AP men’s basketball poll:
1. Gonzaga
2. Villanova
3. Kansas
4. Baylor

5. Arizona
Arizona’s 27-point loss to Oregon Feb. 4 is such an outlier on its resume – and the Wildcats’ only loss in the last two months – that it still deserves to be a top-5 team. UCLA seems like the only team left on the schedule capable of beating the first-place team in the Pac-12.
6. UCLA
The Bruins so desperately needed Thursday’s win over then-No. 5 Oregon. Even with a win over the Ducks that looks like the best victory on its resume, UCLA is still struggling to get respect from the tournament committee, which projected it as a No. 4 seed. Continue reading

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UCLA weekend recap: Jordin Canada injured as Bruins swept in Oregon

Oregon State Beavers guard Sydney Wiese (24) covers UCLA Bruins guard Jordin Canada (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Oregon State on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. Oregon State defeated UCLA 68-61. (Anibal Ortiz/The Gazette-Times via AP)

The UCLA women’s basketball team’s rough weekend got worse when All-American point guard Jordin Canada went down during the first half against Oregon State on Sunday in Corvallis. The team’s leading scorer did not return after appearing to injure her head/neck as the No. 15 Bruins fell short against No. 9 Oregon State, 68-61.

“Our offense usually starts with her and our defense starts with her. The way our team responded, and having other people step up, I was really proud of our effort and focus,” UCLA head coach Cori Close told reporters of Canada. “There are things we have to get better on, and there are things I wish were different, and I hate losing, but sometimes that’s not the true reflection of the heart a team shows, and I’m proud of our team’s heart.”

Close did not have specifics on Canada’s injury after the game.

Sunday’s loss was the second straight for the Bruins as they also lost to unranked Oregon in Eugene on Friday, 84-75. UCLA (18-7, 9-5 Pac-12) has lost three of its past four games, with the only victory coming against Stanford on Feb. 6. All four games were on the road.

In Canada’s absence, Kennedy Burke stepped up for the Bruins, leading all scorers with 18 points against the Beavers. Monique Billings had 17 points.

Against Oregon, Canada had 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists while Billings had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Elsewhere in UCLA athletics:  Continue reading

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Has UCLA’s defense turned a corner entering Oregon State game?

UCLA freshman center Ike Anigbogu had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in the Bruins’ 82-79 win over Oregon on Thursday

It sounded like Steve Alford was trying to convince himself on Tuesday when the UCLA coach claimed the Bruins’ defense was making progress in February. UCLA was two games into the month – against teams with six combined wins in the Pac-12.

But the manner in which UCLA took down Oregon on Thursday infused plenty of substance into Alford’s proclamation two days earlier. UCLA held the 33rd most efficient offense in the country to 33 percent shooting in the second half. The Bruins strung together 21-3 and 14-0 runs against the No. 5 team in nation.

And Alford handled his rotations brilliantly. Freshman center Ike Anigbogu played a significant defensive role down the stretch but not at the expense of starting center Thomas Welsh, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

READ: Preview of No. 10 UCLA vs Oregon State

Aaron Holiday, who is probably UCLA’s best perimeter defender, was a key contributor on both ends in the critical last 10 minutes of the second half, finishing with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Yet starting guards Bryce Alford (12 points) and Isaac Hamilton (11 points) each impacted the game significantly in spots. Continue reading

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Gymnastics posts nation’s highest score, two perfect 10s

The UCLA gymnastics team notched the highest score in the country on Saturday in a convincing win 198.125-194.175 win over Stanford.

The No. 5 Bruins bested No. 1 Oklahoma’s previous national high of 198.025 with their best bars rotation since 2005. Madison Kocian and Peng-Peng Lee both scored perfect 10s as UCLA tallied a team bars total of 49.725, which is tied for third-best in program history.

UCLA also posted season highs on vault (49.5) and floor (49.475) while winning each individual competition. Madison Preston won vault with a career-high 9.950 and Katelyn Ohashi won beam with a career-high 9.975. Kocian, in addition to tying for the bars title with Lee, won floor (9.950) and the all-around (39.575).

Oklahoma is the only other team in the country to break the 198-point mark this season. The Bruins have a big Pac-12 meet next week against No. 4 Utah in Salt Lake City.

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